Pufferbelly Trail expansion gets mixed reaction

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The city of Fort Wayne began accepting bids for a new stretch of trail on the northwest side Friday.  It would expand the Pufferbelly Trail north from Dupont Road to Carroll Road.  But some residents who live nearby say it’s coming at the expense of their privacy.

The Pufferbelly and Solomon Farm trails are said to be the busiest in Allen County.  Even on a windy, chilly day like Friday, folks were out enjoying them.

That’s one of the many reasons expanding the Pufferbelly Trail has been a top priority for Fort Wayne Trails, the city, and the county.

In June, leaders hope to break ground on the new 10 to 12-foot-wide stretch of trail, which would run 1.25 miles north from Dupont to Carroll Road.  They hope to finish that section by this fall.

“All of those residential neighborhoods like Woodmont and LaCabreah around the Dupont area will have that connectivity to not only Soloman Farm, but the Parkview Y, but also the public library branch,” said Dawn Ritchie, greenways manager for Fort Wayne.

Andrea Thomas is the president of the LaCrista Villas of La Cabreah neighborhood association.  She said many in the LaCabreah neighborhood have opposed the trail expansion through years of negotiations because it would give the public a front-row seat to their once private, serene backyards.

In Thomas’ case, she says the expanded trail would be 65 feet from her patio.

“I think trails in general are a great idea, but when we are looking at a trail that is as close to the living space as we’re going to be dealing with, then you start to have different thoughts and feelings about it,” Thomas said.  “We have a say on our property, we don’t have a say on the property they purchased, which is the next 50 feet.”

Still, the wheels are already rolling on the expansion, which came as good news for many using the Pufferbelly Trail Friday.

The final step of the Pufferbelly Trail expansion isn’t expected until 2017.  That section of the trail will go under a raised Dupont Road, following construction that will widen Dupont between Lima and Coldwater Roads.

Allen County Commissioners delayed a vote on loaning the Pufferbelly project $100,000 Friday morning.  They said there was a slight change in the contract and expect the project to be back on the agenda soon.

The city has taken the lead on the project.  The director of Fort Wayne Trails says the city is providing $200,000 in legacy money toward the expansion.

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